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Notes On Hobbes Leviathan.doc

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Boston College
PHIL 1090
Pheme Perkins

Hobbes Leviathan Book 1, Chapters 1-3: Book 1 Of Man Chapter 1-Of Sense Chapter 2-Of Imagination Chapter 3-Of The Consequence Or Trayne Of Imaginations -concern the mechanics of the human mind covering the topics of sense, imagination, and the train of thought -our knowledge of our world originates from external bodies pressing against our sensory apparatus -since the universe is envisioned as a plenum constituted of matter, Hobbes depicts objects continually bumping against each other and describes the passage of motion from one body to another -elementary motion of the universe eventually transfers to the surface of the human body, where nerves, membranes of the eyes, nose, ears, tongue, skin are physically moved, in turn relaying their motions to the brain -Sense is the action of external bodies colliding with our sensitive organs -Matter cannot move itself -challenges vitalism which states that matter is self-motivated -when a thing is in motion, it will eternally be in motion unless acted upon by another body ­continuance of motion is responsible for the transformation of sense into thoughts -the duration of sensory motion is called decaying sense which becomes Hobbes's definition of imagination ­Memory of things sensed from the outside world is defined as experience while sensation of internal movements of the human body is called a dream when one is asleep, or a vision or apparition when one is awake -Understanding is a particular form of imagination, defined as the idea produced by the physical sensation of words or visible signs -There are two possible trains of thoughts: the unguided train, in which mental discourse wanders in no particular direction, as in dreams; and the regulated train, in which the thinker directs mental discourse in a specific direction -Leviathan consists of an interconnected series of propositions and ideas, the text appropriately begins with chapters examining the nature and origin of ideas themselves -Hobbes makes his arguments in a series of steps; the validity of the claim of each step is based upon the claim made in the previous step -Hobbes bases his claims regarding the nature of thinking is never articulated in the text Book 1, Chapters 4-5: Chapter 4-Of Speech Chapter 5-Of Reason And Science -Speech was invented for the purpose of putting mental discourse into verbal discourse -There are two benefits gained by this transformation of the mental into the verbal: 1- words register a train of thoughts by giving name to the thoughts' conclusions, which can then be remembered without having to reconstruct the train of thoughts continually; 2- mental discourse can thus be communicated to other people -Four Uses Of Speech-1) To record knowledge gained of things, which is the acquisition of Arts; 2) To communicate this knowledge to others, which is Counseling or Teaching; 3) To communicate intentions and desires to others and elicit their help; and 4) To entertain ourselves by playing with words -Four Abuses Of Speech-1) Inconstant signification, in which we carelessly let the meanings of words shift; 2) Metaphorical language, in which we use certain words to mean other words in order to deceive; 3) Lies; and 4) Language employed to injure other people -Speech is defined as consisting of Names or Appellations, and their connection -truth and falsehood, which cannot exist outside of speech, are consequent upon the nature of the connection made between names -truth consists in the right ordering of names in our affirmations and thus to speak truly -in other words, to speak philosophically one must use the precise and proper meanings of names -once philosophical definitions, or first principles, are established, true conclusions can be made by building logically upon prior claims -it is society that determines these first principles of philosophical discourse and true speech -Because our experience of the world is mediated by our sensation of it, reality, or objective nature, does not necessarily provide universally satisfying definitions by it
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